Peak season vs. baseball season

The Port of Oakland's cargo division has expressed its concern, and has ongoing meetings with all stakeholders scheduled to take place this fall.

By ·

With the regular major league baseball season drawing to a close, many Oakland Athletics fans are hoping that they’ll have a new ballpark on the waterfront in a couple of years. The team has even gained the Port of Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners’ unanimous approval to an exclusive negotiating term sheet. 

Still,the port’s cargo division has expressed its concern, and has ongoing meetings with all stakeholders scheduled to take place this fall. 

The Athletics plan to develop 3.3 million square feet of housing, 1.5 million square feet of commercial and office space, a hotel and a performance center in the area surrounding a new stadium on property currently serving the port’s Howard Terminal.

It is worth noting, however, that a new study prepared by the consultants Tioga Group and Hackett Associates for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) warns that plans to accommodate a new generation of mega-vessels may be at risk if port loses acreage intended for a new turning basin on the property. 

The report titled “Bay Area Seaport Forecast” examines our region’s ocean cargo gateways for throughput and capacity. It says that the 50-acre Howard Terminal site “is below the current standard for new container terminals, but may be a necessary increment to seaport capacity under moderate-to-strong cargo growth scenarios.”

And as we’re well aware, Logistics Management readers care less about baseball season than peak season. 

“There has been a recent downward trend in U.S. West Coast shares of total U.S. container trade and of transpacific container trade,” says Tioga’s principal, Dan Smith. “The Port of Oakland handles nearly all containerized imports and exports for Northern California, as well as some intermodal cargo moving to and from inland points. Oakland competes for different trade flows in different ways.”

For example, Oakland competes for Asian imports to Midwestern consumer markets with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. For exports, Oakland’s geographic position near California agricultural production gives it an advantage. “Oakland is also often the last port of call before vessels return to Asia, providing a later and faster shipping option for exporters,” says Smith. “As a result, Oakland is one of few U.S. ports where containerized exports often exceed imports”

Karen Vellutini, a vice president with Oakland-based Devine Intermodal and author of a monthly newsletter, recently stated her opposition to the ballpark.

“We don’t believe 3,000 to 4,000 homes, small watercraft, personal vehicles, pedestrians, and added congestion are congruent with maritime operations,” she says.


While the Athletics have four years to complete an environmental impact report, negotiate lease terms with the port, and secure additional regulatory approvals, the organization has stated that is has plans to break ground next year. 

“The Oakland A's may think they have hit a home run, but the industry is far from throwing the game,” says Vellutini.  “We are still swinging for the fences.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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From the September 2019 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
For me, September is the time to make a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new school year for the kids; a new college and professional football season ramps up; and, of course, conference season for nearly all professions is about to get into full swing.
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